How Can You Build a High-performance Culture?

Aligning culture with business objectives results in more than just higher employee engagement—it also leads employees to engage in value-creating behaviours. How can employers encourage this?

How Can You Build a High-performance Culture?

16 Feb 2017 by  Manasi Vartak

The culture of any organisation is a function of the people within and the behaviours in which they engage across their employee life cycle. Aligning culture with business objectives results in more than just higher employee engagement—it also leads employees to engage in value-creating behaviours.

Yet, cultural alignment depends on the organisation’s strategic priorities. Aon’s research with over 100,000 employees from more than 60 companies has shown that, while many of the traits of high-performance cultures remain the same regardless of an organisation’s strategic priority, the relative importance of the traits changes.

What do high-performance cultures look like?

Employees from high performing organisations tend to describe their culture as open/transparent, decisive, people-oriented, long-term-oriented, and proactive. 
With these traits in mind, how can your company create and sustain its own—in line with your strategic priorities?

Here are the three areas to focus on: Leadership, People Programmes, and Infrastructure.

1. Leaders must lead

When it comes to creating a high-performance culture, senior leaders have the greatest impact. Their beliefs, decisions, and behaviours will set the tone and show the rest of the company what is expected, appreciated, and tolerated. If your senior leaders show concern for their employees and make themselves accessible across ranks, the culture they are creating will be a people-oriented one. In other words, they need to lead by example.

2. Align your entire company

It’s not enough to have leaders define and demonstrate the culture. Eventually, the entire company needs to do that. Typically, this is done through people programmes and performance management. This means that cultural traits and behaviour should always be taken into consideration when making decisions about pay, incentives, training, and career advancement. This not only articulates expectations, but also sends a clear signal that your company is committed to this goal.

3. Enable your employees

To help your employees perform at their peak, you need to enable them with all the tools, resources, policies, processes, structure and other infrastructure they need to get things done.

For instance, when roles are not clearly defined, employees cannot be proactive. When their authority is not respected, employees cannot be decisive. Yet being proactive and decisive are two very important traits in high-performance cultures.

Building a high-performance culture can feel overwhelming. To succeed, you’ll need a critical mass of the right people doing the right things. This means that leadership, performance management, infrastructure and other HR programmes have to align to send the same message about the required cultural beliefs, decisions, and behaviours. It is only with this alignment that you can make high-performance culture real.

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Need help to set a practical plan in motion that will create and sustain a high-performance culture in your company? Get in touch with us.

Manasi Vartak

Manasi is a Principal Consultant with Aon Hewitt and leads the Culture Practices for Asia Pacific and the Middle East. She has more than 14 years’ experience in all Human Resource Disciplines, specialising in Organisation Development and Talent Management. Manasi is committed to helping her clients achieve transformation through tailored, sustainable talent management solutions that address strategic, operational and people-related issues and deliver stronger business results.

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